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Blasdell, Karen Sue
Acute immunoreactivity modified by psychosocial factors: type A/B behavior, Transcendental MeditationΠand lymphocyte transformation.

Order No.9006044

For the first time, the influences of Transcendental MeditationŒ (TM), Type A/B behavior, and acute mental states upon immune function were investigated. Venous blood of 24 healthy businessmen (32 ± 8.2 yrs) was sampled during two 5 minute sessions of oral math separated by three 20 minute sessions of sitting rest (eyes-open; eyes-closed or TM; and eyes-open). As expected, a significant suppression of phytohemagglutinen (PHA)-induced lymphocyte transformation occured during periods of mental distress compared to preceding baselines (p =.006, p =.01, Wilcoxon signed-ranks). After 20 minutes of rest following Math-1, the PHA response level of the 24 subjects increased, p =.04. With baseline values as the only significant covariate, a repeated-measures analysis of covariance showed the PHA responses changed across trials F(4,80) = 3.40, p =.02 and interacted with the Type A/B group F(4,80) = 3.00, p =.02, but not the TM/Nonmeditating group F(1,19) = 1.49. For all Type A subjects, PHA values during rest correlated negatively with prolactin (p =.04) and with norepinephrine (p =.05) and during math for norepinephrine (p =.03). Total white blood cell counts changed significantly across trials F(4,52) = 4.40, p =.004.

TM subjects, identified as Type A by structured interview, manifested PHA response patterns to math and rest similar to Type B's. This "Type B profile of immunoreactivity" was distinct from the pattern of immunosuppression associated with Type A behavior displayed by nonmeditating Type A's F(4,80) = 2.69, p =.04. Other research has reported similar manifestation of Type B physiological responses by TM-Type As. Taken together, the results imply that TM subjects can display the achievement- oriented behavior patterns characteristic of Type A without manifesting the stress-induced physiological reactivity patterns associated with Type A which may have adverse effects.

The findings that changes in mental activity during math distress and rest produced significant acute changes in lymphocyte reactivity to PHA which differed according to Type A or Type B behavior support research in psychoneuroimmunology that mental processes and behavior may influence immune consequences of stress. The finding that longterm practitioners of TM could simultaneously be Type A, behaviorally, yet display the Type B pattern of lymphocyte transformation across trials suggests that consciousness also modifies immunoreactivity to stressors. Source: DAI, 50, no. 10B, (1989): 4806

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